Half of Flemish municipalities allow fireworks on New Year's Eve
Half of the municipalities in Flanders still allow fireworks on New Year's Eve, with or without the mayor's permission. This is especially prevalent in West Flanders, according to Oscare, an aftercare and research centre for burns and scars.
Oscare investigated the use of private fireworks in Flanders. The research shows that, despite the recognised dangers, fireworks are still deeply rooted in Flemish tradition.
In West Flanders, 78.5 per cent of municipalities allow fireworks. Those numbers decrease in Limburg (52.4 per cent), followed by East Flanders (36.7 per cent) and Flemish Brabant (33.8 per cent). In Antwerp, only 23.2 per cent of the municipalities allow fireworks.
"Every year, people get burned, animals panic and fires are caused by fireworks," said Oscare spokesperson Peter Van Rossum. "Yet one in two municipalities in Flanders is still unaware of these dangers."
In principle, a general fireworks ban applies in Antwerp, Hasselt, Leuven, Bruges and Ghent. However, on New Year's Eve, private citizens can still let off fireworks in Hasselt and Bruges without a permit, according to Oscare.
The non-profit organisation surveyed more than 2,000 people on their opinion of fireworks. Their findings showed that 70 per cent of participants are opposed to private citizens setting off fireworks. Older participants are more aware of the dangers of fireworks, with 86.5 per cent of those over 65 being against them, while 81 per cent of under-18s are in favour.
“As an aftercare centre for people with burns, we are in favour of a general ban on fireworks for private individuals," Van Rossum said. "Not just lighting them, but also selling and owning them. A clear policy throughout Flanders and Belgium is important to prevent misunderstandings.“
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